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Member postings for James Alford

Here is a list of all the postings James Alford has made in our forums. Click on a thread name to jump to the thread.

Thread: Casting or Moulding Rubber
20/01/2022 09:45:30

Thank you for the suggestions. The idea of using plaster of Paris to support the mould is a good one one of which I had not thought.

I had not considered using silicone for the actual mats as the only silicone I have encountered it is too fragile to stand up to that type of use. However, I shall look at the suggested supplier to see whether there is a more robust style that would be appropriate.

Thank you.


20/01/2022 07:59:35

A slightly unusual question, perhaps, but has anyone any experience using casting or moulding rubber? I wish to try making some rubber mats for an old car; the type that mould over and around the transmission tunnel. I have been looking for a suitable product to use and am considering Devcon Flexane 80. However, it would be good to hear from anyone who used this, or a suitable alternative product, before spending £80.00.



Thread: Suitable Metal for Electro-magnet Levers
29/12/2021 16:37:06

Thank you, Robert.

I was curious about the strength of the magnet. A quick test shows that it can easily lift up a 4g nut vertically from a distance of 0.5cm. With levers, this should be enough for my purpose... with luck.



29/12/2021 13:52:34

Thank you for all of the ongoing suggestions.

Just to clarify any potential confusion that I may have caused:

For the clock that I am trying to design, there will be one electro-magnet operating a set of levers which will operate one wheel. There will be a separate set each for the seconds hand, another the minutes and so forth for the hours, AM or PM, day of the week, 1/4 strike and hourly chimes. Other than the hours and minutes, each other time division will have a separate dial, like a regulator.

The picture below is the type of electro-magnet that I am proposing to use and have bought.

lifting magnet.jpeg



29/12/2021 12:33:43

I decided against the coaxial approach quite some time ago, to be honest. From memory, each wheel was smaller than the one in front of it. Each wheel was in a case with a small slot at the top. The seconds wheel had a short arm protruding backwards. The arm had a pawl hanging down and this engaged with the exposed tooth on the minutes gear and dragged it around. When it reached the case, the case disengaged the pawl until the next rotation. This was repeated for the hours. It was all becoming too complicated so I gave up.



29/12/2021 10:18:26

Thank you, again, for the suggestions and links, which I shall read, especially about the Lavet motor.

I did consider stepper motors at one time, but having written the code for the Uno and built the circuitry, I am inclined to stay with solenoids, unless there is a way to operate the stepper motor with the existing code. The code simply sets an output pin on the Uno to "on" momentarily when something is required to operate.

Duncan: your idea of coaxial gears is not dissimilar to an earlier thought that I had, which used coaxial wheels, one being pulsed each second and pins on the seconds wheel dragging the minute wheel around each 60 seconds, the minute wheel doing the same for the hours and so forth for the days of the week as well.



Edited By James Alford on 29/12/2021 10:19:45

Edited By James Alford on 29/12/2021 10:29:48

Thread: Scribing with verniers
29/12/2021 10:05:15
Posted by Massimo Dalmonte on 29/12/2021 09:01:30:


I bought one of these a few years ago, was very cheap then, about 10 euros, complete with sheath and spare scriber:

marking vernier.jpg

it has a couple of advantages versus modified regular verniers, the roller and adjustable scriber "height".


A small world: I bought one as well a week or so before Christmas. About £13.00 on Amazon.

Thread: Suitable Metal for Electro-magnet Levers
28/12/2021 20:43:21

Thank you for all of the suggestions. I should have given more details in my original request.

On and off, over a couple of years or so, I have been playing around with plans for a clock which uses solenoids to pull levers which will, in turn, pull the the clock wheels around. There are multiple solenoids, one each for the hours, seconds and minutes hand. The solenoids are controlled by an Arduino Uno.

I plan to make the mechanism from brass, but with magnetic pads for the solenoids to attract. I shall need to keep the weight to a minimum as the solenoids are quite low power and will need to overcome the weight of the mechanism and pawls. Maintaining an air gap is a good idea and should be easy enough to include in the design.



28/12/2021 10:34:46


I wish to make some levers to be operated by electro-magnets. The electro-magnets are a small version of the type that are used to hold open doors. What would be best metal to use for the pad that will be attracted to the magnet? I know that some types of metal retain less magnetism than others and are more suited to this use, but I cannot remember what. It is somewhat annoying, really, as I used to work with solenoids and electro-magnets all day long at one time and simply cannot remember.

Thank you.


Thread: Flexispeed main bearings lubrication and drill arbor
23/12/2021 10:32:48
Posted by Michael Gilligan on 22/12/2021 21:38:12:


If you are thinking of modifying the tailstock, you might consider replicating the lever-feed system used by Cowells on the 90CW which takes 8mm horological collets … it seems better proportioned, and likely more appropriate, than using a drill chuck.

… illustrated here, along with lots of other interesting information: **LINK**


Edited By Michael Gilligan on 22/12/2021 21:42:02

I started down this route on my Flexispeed at one point. I bought a tailstock arbour from Peatol Tools to replace the entire arbour in the Flexispeed tailstock. They are both the same outside diameter and the Peatol part fits the Flexispeed snugly. It cost very little, has a dead centre turned ground on the end and a thread for a standard drill chuck. I never completed it, simply because I managed to cure the problem that I had had with the original taper arbour. However, it might be cheaper that a Cowells part.




Edited By James Alford on 23/12/2021 10:33:18

18/12/2021 18:45:26

Does this help?



Thread: Anyone here got Amazon Echo Plus, Alexa?
18/12/2021 11:37:07
Posted by Russell Eberhardt on 18/12/2021 11:06:59:
Posted by James Alford on 18/12/2021 10:27:41:

I have one in the garage along with a "smart plug" which controls the lights. In theory, I can ask the Echo in the kitchen to turn the lights on in the garage, ready for when I get there and then off again from indoors. The trouble is that it is so unreliable that I frequently get told that it is not responding and end up going out again to switch the lights off manually. It is a really good concept, but seems to be unreliable at present.

The smart plug needs a good wifi signal. If the signal in the garage is poor you could try a wifi booster.


I certainly need to do something. There is one Echo in the house, one in the garage and the plug in the garage. There is booster in the conservatory which is as close to the garage as I can get. Perhaps another in the garage would help.


18/12/2021 10:27:41

I have one in the garage along with a "smart plug" which controls the lights. In theory, I can ask the Echo in the kitchen to turn the lights on in the garage, ready for when I get there and then off again from indoors. The trouble is that it is so unreliable that I frequently get told that it is not responding and end up going out again to switch the lights off manually. It is a really good concept, but seems to be unreliable at present.



Thread: Flexispeed main bearings lubrication and drill arbor
18/12/2021 10:24:00

I use a straight 30 weight oil on my Flexispeed's headstock. I fitted a pair of small drip feeders and fill those. It seems to be work all right. I did use 3-in-1, but it seem to run out of the headstock too quickly and fly everywhere. The 30 weight is less prone to this.

I can post a picture of the tailstock and drill arbour later, but, like you, I have failed to find a commercial fitting that will fit. I was lucky that an arbour came with my lathe.



Thread: Is there a demand for Whitworth tools?
01/12/2021 22:07:08

I certainly use Whitworth, and BSF, spanners as I am slowly rebuilding an Austin Seven which uses these. I have a small selection of spanners in these forms, but never seem to have the right one.


Thread: Compressor
24/11/2021 21:28:40

I bought an Orazio low noise oilless silent 24l compressor from e-bay a few years ago. They are now £150.00 It is quiet enough to hold a conversation still when it is running. It runs a pencil die grinder and a small US Pro die grinder comfortably. It also powered my compressed air-propane torch easily. It was good value for money.


Thread: How do you stop brass tarnishing
18/11/2021 07:23:30

Try Renaissance Wax. I did a lot of work with copper a few years ago and it was highly effective at delaying any tarnishing of the surface. It is apparently used by museums, but whether that it just advertising exaggeration or not, I cannot say.


Thread: Shock at low pay for high skill
06/07/2021 07:24:01
Posted by duncan webster on 05/07/2021 23:57:14:

My figure came from statista, and isn't far off ONS. According to this STATS median salary is £68100. Just shows there are lies, damn lies and statistics

I agree entirely. I used to do stats analysis for a living. It was quite surprising how even the selective choice of mean, median and mode for the "average" could change the narrative of the figures.



05/07/2021 22:52:51
Posted by duncan webster on 05/07/2021 19:14:48:

Medion salary in UK is £31.5k

According to the ONS, median household income is only £29.9k in 2020.

Thread: Into the darkness
10/06/2021 07:18:42
Posted by Oldiron on 09/06/2021 17:08:57:
Posted by Speedy Builder5 on 09/06/2021 16:51:16:

Do you have to have special LED dimmer switches for dimmable LED bulbs ? I ask this as I changed the halogen bulbs for LEDs which sort of work OK, but some of the LEDs on the same circuit can dimly glow when all is turned off.


Yes you do. I have a large central chandelier type light fitting and have replaced the Halogen lamps with LED's. The dimmer I got from an electrical wholesaler cost £70 so they are not cheap.


No: you do not need a different dimmer, unless we happened to have the right type already. I fitted dimmable LED bulbs to replace some filament bulbs and the existing dimmer switch worked perfectly.


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